History of Buddhism & Buddha - Chronology

563-483 B.C.

Life of Siddharta Gautama, otherwise known as Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. [short description of his life]

486 B.C. / 483 B.C.

• First Buddhist Council at Rajagaha, under the patronage of King Ajatasattu. Oral tradition established for the first time.

383 / 386 / 350 B.C.

• Second Buddhist Council at Vesali about 100 year after the Parinirvana.

• First schism of the Sangha occurs in which the Mahasanghika school parts ways with the Sthaviras or Theras (elders), regarded as the founders of Therevada Buddhism.

269 / 272 - 233 / 231 B.C.

• Reign of Indian Emperor Asoka who converts and establishes the Buddha's Dharma on a national level for the first time. He also sends out Buddhist missionaries all around the then known world. Traceable are the emergence of Buddhism all over India and in Indonesia.

250 B.C.

•Third Buddhist Council at Pataliputra under the patronage of Emperor Asoka about 200years after the Parinirvana. This council is not recognized among Mahayana Buddhists

240 / 247 B.C.

•Asoka's son and missionary Mahinda established Buddhism in Sri Lanka

50 B.C.

•Modern scholars believe that Buddhism was in fact being introduced into China by at least this date by traveling merchants, if not by missionaries.

30 - 100 B.C or 35-32 B.C.

• Entire scriptural canon of Theravada School was committed to writing on palm leaves in Pali at the Aloka Cave, near Matale, Sri Lanka.

[0 A.D.]

The alledged birth of Christ, the beginning of the Christian Era on which all the dates here mentioned are based.

c. 150

•Indian Buddhist philosopher Nargarjuna founds the school of Madhyamika ('the Middle Way'), one of the major schools within Mahayana Buddhism

c. 350

•Asanga  and his brother Vasubandhu develop the new school of Yogacara Buddhism.


King Sosurium,the 17th ruler of the Koguryo Kingdom of Korea, establishes Buddhism as the spiritual foundation of the state and Confucius's teachings as its legal base. This marks thestart of Buddhist influence all over Korea, though in some portions of the land Buddhists are persecuted in this era.

4th Century

• Translation ofBuddhist texts into Chinese by Kumarajiva (344-413) and Hui-yŁan (334-416).

5th Century

• Amitabha (Amida) Pure Land sect emerges in China, founded by Hui Yuan, a convertfrom Daoism.

• Buddhaghosa composes the Visuddhimagga and major commentaries in Sri Lanka. He thereby systematizes Therevada Buddhism's doctrines.

c. 500-528

•Buddhists are persecuted by Hindus in India, leading to a Buddhist migration east into southeastern Asia.

c. 500-535

•Chan Buddhism (in Japanese Zen) is introduced to China through Bodhidharma, probably from India.

1357 - 1419

• Tsong-kha-pa becomes a major TibetanBuddhist reformer and founder of Dge-lugs-pa (or Gelugpa, or 'Yellow Hat') order. He abolishes mariage for the lama's in his order.

15 th century

•Beginning of Dalai Lama lineage in Tibetan Buddhism.


• Ngawang Namgyal(1594-1651), a Tibetan monk,arrives in Bhutan, in flight from the Dalai Lama. After defeating rivalreligious leaders, he becomes the spiritual head of the country. AsBhutan's first national figure he is regarded as the father of this nation.

19th century

• First Western translation of theDhammapada. (German-1862).

• German translation of Lotus Sutra, 1852 and pioneer Buddhist scholars: - Neumann and Odlenburg, first German monk, Nyanatiloka.

• The history of Buddhism is dominated by Western Colonialism.Colonialism is seen as both a suppressing agent for Buddhism, in theform of Christian Missionaries, for instance, as well as a reinvigorating agent as old libraries are newly studied.

• Buddhism will grow to be intertwined with nationalistic and independence movements in various Asian nations.


•  Apublic debate takes place in Sri Lankabetweena Buddhist monk and several Christian missionaries. It is the intent of the Christians to convince the people of the presumed superiority ofChristianity, but in fact the lone monk makes a strong case forBuddhism. Published reports of the debate will have considerable influence in convincing various Westerners of the value of Buddhism.


Colonell Olcott, president of the Theosophical Society [see Theosophical Chronology] and H.P. Blavatsky come to Sri Lanka where they embrace Buddhism by taking Pansil.ColonelOlcott will be instrumental in founding various Buddhist schools, oftenlead by theosophists, creating the first Buddhist Catechism and increating the Buddhist flag. All this was part of his effort toreinvigorate Buddhism and other eastern religions. In the end his workwas criticised for being too much a mixture of various traditions, with the result that none felt he was being true to theirs.

Anagarika Dharmapala met Olcott and Blavatsky and became a member of the Theosophical Society. He is encouraged by H.P. Blavatsky not to work for theosophy, but for Buddhism.


•  The Maha Bodhi Society was founded by Anagarika Dharmapala, member of the Theosophical Society, in 1891.


•  World Parliament of the Religions,Chicago. Anagarika Dharmapala is there to represent Therevada Buddhism and becomes very popular.


• Buddhist Society of Great Britain was founded.


• The Buddhist Society was founded, by the late Christmas Humphreys, member of the Theosophical Society, building on the pioneer work of the Buddhist Society of Great Britain and Ireland(1907 to 1925/6) and it is one of the oldest Buddhist societies in Europe. From its inception it has not been attached to any one school of Buddhism, remaining non-sectarian in character and open in principle to the teachings of all schools.


• Founding of World Fellowship of Buddhists.


Dalai Lama flees Tibet to India.


H.H. Dalai Lama receives Nobel Peace Prize.